When you talk to someone about meditation, they will usually come up with a very opinionated view. There is one group of people who consider themselves too “busy” for a daily brain workout, others dismiss it as a “lame activity“ for the mentally troubled.
Meditation carries a certain stigma, doesn’t it?
The first time I got seriously into the idea of meditation was after reading The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, a book about a successful lawyer and his spiritual experiences in the Himalayan mountains after selling his holiday home and ferrari.
One of my favorite podcasts touched on that topic as well, and eventually, I stumbled upon the Headspace application in the iPhone app store.
The Headspace journey
Headspace makes meditation easy and accessible for everyone. Seriously, everyone, as long as you have an iPhone or Android device.
Apart from the incredibly cute design and great content, Headspace does one thing very well: Onboarding new users. That means they help you to get familiar with the topic in a very gentle, smooth and efficient way.
When opening Headspace for the first time, we are greeted by Andy Puddicombe, founder of Headspace, and a meditation expert from the UK. The New York Times says he’s “doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver has done for food.“
Headspace welcomes us to the world of meditation with a beautifully animated introduction video, which explains how our journey starts, and which benefits we’ll reap along the way.
The first 10 meditation sessions are available for free, so you can get an idea of what meditation is all about. They are easy to digest, enjoyable, and peppered with a few more engaging animated videos to fall in love with.
I was hooked at the end of that 10 day test-drive and wanted to dig deeper, so I didn’t hesitate for too long before subscribing to the monthly plan…
A few months in
I’ve now been meditating for the last couple of months. Not every day, and I even missed a few weeks of mental workout at one point. But that didn’t discourage me, and I always managed to pick it up again.
It’s now at the point where it has become a part of my daily routine, and I meditate every day right after lunch, when the stomach is full, and I wouldn’t be capable of any strenuous physical or mental activity anyway.
I’ve noticed a few benefits already, although I still consider myself a very raw beginner in the field, of course.
- I’m calmer
- I’m more focused
- I can control my thoughts better
The last one is particularly interesting, as it is about your ability to direct thoughts in the right direction. Without going too much into detail, one of the aims of mindfulness meditation like Headspace teaches, is to get you doing mental exercises in order to strengthen your prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is responsible for your decision-making process and your ability to focus.
Strengthening this part of the brain helps you be more resistant to temptations (e.g. when it comes to eating, smoking, drinking) … and helps you be more conscious and mindful in everyday life.
A habit for life?
Personally, I used to be prone to a few common fears including flying, heights, challenging deadlines and the amount of work in front of me. That’s because I would easily drift into “What happens if…“ thoughts. I now consider myself much more resilient because I have more power over my thoughts, and can avoid drifting into these irrational and unnecessary preoccupations.
It’s obvious that there are certain areas in our brain that, over time and due to our societal conditioning, media consumption and the permanent exposure to social news, become underdeveloped. The most dramatic of these is probably our ability to focus.
Meditation has this amazing benefit of training your mind to become more disciplined. As a side effect you also become more conscious of your daily activities.
So if changing some of your negative habits or simply getting your work done a bit quicker is one of your objectives, then I can highly recommend giving Headspace (or any other kind of mindfulness meditation program) a try.
At Hanno, we are four Headspacers already, supporting each other eagerly to complete the 30 session foundation pack as part of our quarterly goals. That’s because we believe that meditation—and how it helps us work more efficiently—is going to pay off in the long run and enable us to provide better results, higher quality and improved solution finding processes.
If you still think that meditation is some hokey, eastern kind of voodoo magic then check out this video by the David Lynch Foundation where Fortune 500 entrepreneur Ray Dalio and the legendary director Martin Scorsese explain why they count on meditation as a practice for a more balanced and successful life.